Tree planting controls rocky desertification in SW China

(Xinhua) 14:30, June 19, 2023

GUIYANG, June 18 (Xinhua) -- Villager Liu Xingsheng was busy picking fruits from plum trees that grew in an unlikely place: a rocky mountain.

The mountain is in Xinpu Township in southwest China's Guizhou Province, a region long facing the threat of rocky desertification.

In Liu's memory, the most prominent geographic feature of his hometown was the rocky mountains, which were "as bare as if it had been burned by fire."

"The natural environment was harsh," said Zhang Xianghua, Party chief of Xinpu, adding that the town's crops were mainly grown on drylands scattered among the rocky mountains.

"The villagers here were all poor, with many living in thatched houses," Liu, 49, recalled.

In 2013, people in Xinpu started to take various measures to control rocky desertification, such as improving arable land conditions, building small reservoirs and pumping stations, and constructing new rural roads.

Improved land conditions and infrastructure provided a foundation for industrial development in Xinpu. As a result, many villagers who had left the town for better jobs have returned home.

Liu started planting plum trees in 2016 and has, so far, planted a total of 3 hectares of trees, two-thirds of which have born fruit.

"When all the trees bear fruit in two years, my gross annual income will be over 400,000 yuan (about 560,000 U.S. dollars)," he said.

So far, thousands of hectares of trees and cash crops have been planted in Xinpu.

"The village no longer looks desolate," said Liu. "The ecological environment has significantly improved. So have the villagers' income."

Xinpu is a fine example of how Guizhou has made efforts to tackle rocky desertification. The total rocky desertification area in the province had decreased from 37,600 square km in 2005 to 15,500 square km in 2022.

Notably, the land area under the categories of "severely" or "extremely severely" rocky desertification in Guizhou has decreased by over 60 percent.

Wang Yuansu, an official of Guizhou's forestry department, said the province implemented a targeted strategy to control rocky desertification based on the severity of the situation.

Forestation and grass cultivation efforts made a difference in areas of severe rocky desertification. In areas with moderate levels of desertification, locals were advised to develop livestock farming.

In areas with better soil conditions, the government helped promote the development of fruit trees.

Wang's hometown, a remote county in Bijie City, was one of the areas most severely affected by rocky desertification in Guizhou.

"In the past, the mountains were bare, and the soil eroded with declining fertility," he said. "Now, the once bare mountains have been covered with lush green vegetation."

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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